A Madras High Court bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and R Kalaimathi has given a stay order on the operation of the Government Order (G.O.) which allowed special licenses for liquor to be served at conference halls, convention centres and in other venues such as sports stadiums hosting events of national or international importance.
The stay order was given on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by K Balu, the president of the Advocates Forum for Social Justice. The PIL challenged the validity of the G.O.
Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram, appearing for the state opposed the stay order saying that the petitioner had challenged the G.O. dated 18 March, while the said G.O. has been subsequently amended on 24 April. He said that the petitioner would have to file a fresh petition.
The G.O. dated 18 March had allowed the grant of special licences to serve liquor at marriage halls, household celebrations, functions and parties in addition to conference halls, convention centres and stadiums.
To this, the counsel for the petitioner responded saying that his client had submitted an additional affidavit taking the amendment into account.
He contended that even the amended G.O. would violate laws that require a minimum distance between liquor shops, places of worship and educational institutions.
The Court is likely to hear the case again in June, when it reassembles after vacation.
The part of the G.O. allowing liquor to be served in marriage halls, household celebrations, functions and parties was withdrawn by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government after backlash from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and some allies of the DMK.
BJP state president K Annamalai alleged that the ruling DMK was attempting to increase liquor sales in the state to earn more revenue for liquor manufacturing firms owned by leading lights of the party.
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